What Writing Fiction & Adoption Have in Common

I’ve had bloggers block this past week or so.  Let me tell you why.  Early last week I decided to write my first ever short story and enter it in a competition.  I thought I would be rather clever and be able to write fiction and blog at the same time … I was wrong!  I also thought, because I can sit here at my blog and comfortably belt out 500 plus words in ten minutes that I’d be ace at writing fiction.  I was also wrong!

I haven’t written fiction since school, it has almost always been journal writing, plus the odd poem.  By odd I mean really odd.  Trippy, sort of.  But that’s another blog for another day.

So, last week I decided to write a story, a short story.  I sat at my computer with no plan and no idea where to start.  That’s usually ok, because when I blog I generally start out that way and the words just come tumbling out.  One thing I have learned this week is that I finally get that whole blank page, writers block thing.  It never used to make sense to me.  It now does and I apologise to the literary world for my ignorance.   I closed down my word document and decided that I really  need to think about my storyline.  Words don’t just jump out of your head and onto a page and turn into fiction.  Who would of thought that?

Throughout my life, even back at school, I have been told I should write.  Now that I’m blogging I am told more often I should write.  I should write a novel they say.  I should do something with my writing.  I want to.  I would love nothing more than to have a paid writing job.  Actually yes, there is one thing I would love more, and that is to write a novel. It wasn’t until last week that I began to ask myself the question “can I really write the novel that is supposedly lurking inside me?”.

Writing the short story scared me a little (ok a lot).  I wrote a draft and thought it was reasonable.  I reread it and thought hmmm, maybe not.  I reworked it and reworked it.  I sent it to a couple of people I respect immensely and felt ill.  I also sent it to my best friend in Germany who read it and emailed me back saying

“Hi, hope this works, please just take this as purely as suggestions or how it would read better from a reader point of view, i love it especially when i re-read it and took more time.  When does it have to be submitted?”

This was encouraging.  I know she won’t beat around the bush with her feedback.  I can rely on her to very clearly tell me if I am wasting my time.  I’m glad she didn’t.   I then had renewed enthusiasm to edit again and again and have since sent it off for more critiquing.

Yesterday, out of the blue, the very lovely Fleur McDonald, author of two successful novels Red Dust & Blue Skies (you can follow Fleur on Twitter @fleurmcdonald or visit her at her blog http://fleurmcdonald.com/), emailed and called me to say I had won a competition I had entered on her blog.  The prize is  a “Taster” pack from the Queensland Writers Centre.  This consists of a 3 month membership.  Perfect timing.   I cannot tell you how excited I am and I can’t wait to join.  Some force is definitely pushing me in the right direction.

Anyway, back to the Short Story Competition.  I am so glad that I made the decision to enter because it has given me a realistic expectation of how hard it is to write a work of fiction.  These are the three main things I’ve learnt in the space of a week:

  • Writing is a craft.  An artform.  You don’t just drop words on a page and your story is written.  Writing is like a sculpture, you start off with a rudimentary block of words and then you keep crafting them and crafting them until they sing off the page.  You sculpt away unnecessary words and turn ordinary words into beautiful prose.
  • Writing requires infinite patience. You have to be prepared to revisit and rewrite and edit and re edit.  It is true when they say your first draft is simply that … a draft.  No one ever writes a first draft they are happy to have published. Embarrassingly I thought that was rubbish – I’m sure my first draft will be great.  I feel rather silly at my arrogance.
  • Writing a book is like having a baby and putting it up for adoption. While you are creating it, you become the book you write.  You become the characters.  You live them.  You breathe them, but ultimately you don’t own them.  You have to hand them over to someone else who will be responsible to turn your manuscript into a real book.  Then your book belongs to your readers. Writing is a big lesson in letting go.

I still have so much to learn, but those 3 things were really key for me this week.  Yes, it is definitely going to be much harder than I first thought and that’s ok.   I am a big believer in the saying “if something is too easy to come by, it’s probably not worth having in the first place”.

The following people, in their own way, have without a doubt, inspired me to finally write:   Kylie Ladd, Kate Hunter, Anjanette Morton, Lisa Reynolds, Lisa Heidke, Jayne Kearney, Sarah Pietrzak, Fleur McDonald, Allison Tait, Catherine Overington, Nick Earls & Rebecca Sparrow Thank you.  You may not know it, but because you are all so caring and generous with your time and encouraging words, you inspire people like me to follow their dreams.

#amwriting  #finally

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About Annieb25

A mum to 2 teenage boys, would be writer, thirsty for knowledge, Radio Solution solver on Radio 1116 4BC and so much more!!
This entry was posted in Career, Twitter, Writing and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

23 Responses to What Writing Fiction & Adoption Have in Common

  1. Go Annie! That’s great news.

    I’ve had friends and family say the same thing to me: you should write a book! However, when I read so many other blogs out there (including your own) it just reiterates to me (yet again) that I have a *lot* to learn where writing is concerned. I think it’s great that my friends and family are so supportive, but if only they could see all the great writing out there!

    At this stage, I’m happy to use my blog as a hobby, get some feedback and then see where it goes from there. I think the more you write, the better you get at it.

    Besides that, I just don’t feel I have a book in me. Funny – when I was a kid and teenager, fiction was my thing. I only ever got “A’s” in english when I wrote fiction! However, I don’t find it comes naturally to me these days. In fact, only *once* I opened up a document with the intention of writing a story of some sort, and I got one line in and thought, ‘Ugh! I can’t do this!’ I had nothing. I can’t imagine trying to write a novel at the moment. Maybe some day….

    Please keep us posted and good luck! Your writing ROCKS!

    xxx

  2. Dear Annie,
    Good luck in your short story competition. You definitely have talent so keep at it! Like you, I’m a late starter. I’ve found writer’s courses very useful, as well as writing blogs, (Nicola Morgan’s is a favourite: http://www.helpineedapublisher.blogspot.com/) and books, such as Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’.
    As far as first drafts go, remember the immortal words of Ernest Hemingway: ‘The first draft of anything is shit.’
    All the best, Benison

  3. Wow…I was reading your post, eating up the words as if I’d not been fed in weeks (which I have, by the way). And then I saw my name as one of the many who have encouraged you!!

    Is it any wonder I’ve given encouragement?!?! You’re awesome!

    I had a very similar experience in starting to write fiction last year – it is much more challenging than blogging or non-fiction. But I hope that you find, as I did, that it is even more rewarding as the characters develop in ways you’d not imagined…that they sweep you into their world just as you help to create theirs on the page (or computer screen).

    Can’t wait to help celebrate the accolades that are sure to come your way!! 🙂

  4. I love this! I love those 3 points. You have it spot on.
    Love that you are writing 🙂
    xxx

  5. Kylie L says:

    Hey- thanks! I’m honoured to be named, and amongst such an incredible group of writers too (Not sure what the proper noun for writers is: blot of writers? angst of writers?)
    I loved reading this because I agree with all of it, but mostly I like that someone is saying “it’s hard”. Hell, yeah. Whernever people find out I am a writer/novelist they invariably say “Oh, I’m going to write a book one day,” and I just think to myself “Go on, then.” That sounds smug, and I don’t mean to be at all- I have enormous admiration for anyone who even makes a start on banging out 100,000 or so words of connected text- but I think people who don’t write do underestimate just how much discipline and belief and persistence and sheer bloody-minded hard work it requires. And then, of course, the writing the novel is almost the easy bit- there’s finding an agent and a publisher and some readers still to come.
    Good luck! I think it’s great that you’ve got an idea what this will take and that you’re having a go regardless. I have every faith that you can do it- and hey, if it was easy, it wouldn’t be so satisfying. Go for it. Don’t die wondering.

  6. Well done Annie! *Love* your work 🙂
    xx

  7. Hi Annie,
    I started writing at 8, however, as you know a whole lot of challenges have arrived at my door step and demanded attention.
    A few years back I knew I had arrived at the right season: I began to write full time.
    I couldn’t quite believe it when I reached 10,000 words.
    I’m at 110,000 now, and have been for some time. (I discoverd I was writing a triology) This time death arrived on the doorstep and I was happy to stop to help.
    I didn’t know it would take me so long to grieve mum (oops tears)
    and I have only revisited my WIP briefly.
    Each time it was a comfort to do so, they are all there waiting: all my characters.

    I also found Stephen King’s On writing to be useful. (not a scary story within it, but a few good laughs and some great insights, plus motivation)

    QWC is a great resource.
    The most important thing is to keep going….

  8. Jodi Gibson says:

    Fantastic Annie! It is such a wonderful thing to write, yet such a hard thing. I have so much admiration and respect for writers.
    I have been writing a fiction novel for a couple of years now. My main trouble is time. I find when I sit down to write sometimes I have the dreaded writers block, but other times I can’t type fast enough to keep up with the story line, but with kids, family, a business, the distractions are very detrimental to my story. So I have put it on hold…..for now.
    I am in love with my story, but the scariest thing is that no-one else will be. I think when I finally finish it I will be too scared to let anyone else read it as they wont ‘get it’ like I do.
    I love your writing style and I wish you all the best and hope we get to read your story one day!

  9. Can’t wait for you to be another author I can namedrop in conversation. I’m sure I’ll also drop in a bit of, ‘I knew her when she was just a blogger, not a Booker Prize winner’ 😀

    And seriously, how serendipitous is the Queensland Writers Centre prize? The universe doesn’t stuff around when it is trying to tell you something (I usually get a cryptic version!)

    I’m also really chuffed that my encouragement was acknowledged – I’m not the kind of person that would tell a snake they’d make a great hand model IYKWIM. You’ve got talent, girlfriend 🙂

  10. Oh good for you. And at least writing doesn’t involve producing an actual small human. Good luck with it!

  11. Ah Annie, there’s nothing harder and nothing more rewarding. Short stories are really difficult so be proud you got one done. Good luck with the comp!

  12. Hi Annie

    I’m not a big believer in books that “teach” you how to write but my one exception is “Bird by Bird” by the glorious Anne Lamott. It’s hilarious and wise and full of great tips. My favourite piece of advice from Lamott is this – “Give yourself permission to write a shitty first draft”. If you sit down thinking you need to write something comparable to what you see on book shelves — you’re kidding yourself. Those works have all been written and rewritten, drafted and re-drafted and edited to within an inch of their lives. So just get your story down. Maybe the first draft is rather lame. Who cares? It gives you something to work with. And frankly, perfection is paralysing. If you sit there hitting the delete key every ten minutes, you’ll never get there.

    Can’t wait to hear your progress.

    xox

  13. Nick Earls says:

    Seems like a very productive week to me. I think one of the most important lessons to learn about writing fiction is that the process necessarily feels harder than the end result should look. Some people don’t seem to work that out, and the end result can too easily be lazy, unexamined fiction that won’t be what it could be. If writing a story doesn’t feel hard at least sometimes, maybe the writer’s hovering above the grindstone and not actually making contact with it. You’ll be a better fiction writer already because of this week. Good one.

  14. Bern Morley says:

    Go Annie. That analogy is just perfect. At the end of the day though, it’s still your baby. xx

    You are awesome, You know what I think about you as a person and you as a writer and the the most awesome thing is that each compliments the other.

    You are just genuinely a lovely, caring, thoughtful, beautiful person. That kind of stuff is learned, it’s just in you.

    Good luck with the course, I too can’t wait to namedrop one day. xx

  15. Seraphimsp says:

    Annie you are a star and I am thrilled for you. Thank you for naming me in that awesome group of ladies as well. As Kylie said, trying to connect a cohesive piece of text is a huge challenge. I’m learning this myself! I’m cheering you on my friend xxx

  16. Cate Bolt says:

    Glad you persisted with it. I told you you could do it!!

    Will we get to see it??

  17. Lucy says:

    This just makes my heart sing Annie. You’re wonderful. xx

  18. Maxabella says:

    I’m so pleased you’re getting into the fiction writing. You are really very good at writing, Annie so I think you’re going to enjoy this new era immensely. x

  19. lisa Heidke says:

    Hi Annie,
    I have every confidence you’ll realise your dream – Thank you for including me in the awesome group of writers named. Writing is bloody hard and yes, you have to persist even during the crappy times. But once you get the first draft written, you’ll be flying! You can do it!
    Cheers,
    Lisa xx

  20. What a wonderful story, Annie – that short story comp will be a great learning curve, although I have to agree with everyone else – your writing is wonderful! I’m thrilled that in some little way, I’ve helped you!

    Supporting others, helping others, is what humans are made for.

  21. Fiona says:

    Hey there,
    Awesome news – i am so glad you kept at it !!! What a wonderful feeling….will we get to read your story 🙂 ???
    *****You continually inspire me*****

  22. Naomi says:

    I love coming here to read your words. I love the analogy you’ve used… so true, and the people you chose as inspiration? So true.

    Looking forward to reading more form you x

  23. Suzie G says:

    Hi Annie! Thanks for subscribing to my humble new-born blog 🙂 Congrats on the comp win, that is fantastic. I have been a member of QWC since the beginning of the year and believe it is one of the best things I have done since deciding that I want to be a ‘proper’ writer. I’ve had an editorial consultancy and been to a writer’s workshop weekend, both discovered through QWC. Good luck with it all! I look forward to following your progress.

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